Gary Paffett: “I don’t do this job to be famous”

Gary Paffett
Gary Paffett

DTM champion, team captain and thoroughbred racing driver – that's Gary Paffett as we know him in the DTM. We reveal the person behind the racing driver in a three-part interview. In the final part, Gary talks about…

  • … his wife Lisa: “She's certainly changed me as a human being from the very first day we met"
  • … his promoter, Martin Hines: “He was the one person who believed in me more than any other. He was never in the slightest doubt about my ability"
  • … his future in motor racing: “I'd love to work with teams and drivers, help them improve, win races and be successful"

Gary, you often find yourself far from home on race weekends. How easy is it to maintain friendships?

Gary Paffett: Well, it's not all that easy, but on the other hand, I know most of my friends through motor racing. I never really see anyone with whom I went to school anymore. Now and then, I might write one or two people from back then on Facebook, but I have no real contact with school mates anymore. All my friends are from the world of motor racing. Besides, I don't have a huge circle of friends anyway that I see for dinner every week. There are some people we've met through our children's school friends as well as the people from motor racing, obviously. They ultimately make up my circle of friends.

Can you recall the first time you were asked for your autograph?

Gary Paffett: No, not really, but I can remember the time when I used to practice writing my signature. When you're asked for your autograph for the first time, you're usually caught unawares. I signed just as I normally would. I did that a couple of times and then thought, this is taking too long. I'm going to have to make some changes, and that's when I went through the whole process of deciding how my autograph should look.

Can you remember the first time you were recognized in public?

Gary Paffett: To be honest, I can't remember the first time. First off, it doesn't happen to you all that much anyway as a racing driver, since you're not a big celebrity. Still, when I arrived once at the airport in Germany, I was going through passport control and the guy looked at me, looked at the passport, turned to his colleague and showed him my passport. At that point, I was getting a bit worried that they were going to arrest me, but then he just said, “Oh, Gary Paffett, good luck for the weekend!" And I said, “Oh, thank you!" That was probably the first time someone recognized me away from the track. It happens more and more with time. The longer you are around, the more people know you. It has also happened where I live in England a few times. It's always a bit odd when you get recognized away from the track.

Would you like to be more in the spotlight, be more widely recognized and maybe pop up in the tabloids now and then?

Gary Paffett: No, not really. I don't do this job to be famous. I do it because I love racing, working with all the guys and travelling, not because I want to be famous. That's just a side-effect of what we do. I love the fans and the support they give me, but of course, that's not the main reason. It's simply a part of what we do.

Which person has had the most influence on your life?

Paffett at the Norisring
Paffett at the Norisring

Gary Paffett: There are many people who've influenced my life. Originally, of course, it was my father who introduced me to the sport. My mum and dad brought me up, so obviously, they did the bulk of the work in setting me on the path where I find myself today. The second person is Martin Hines, who owned the kart team, with which I spent the biggest part of my career. He discovered me and supported me financially in everything I did at the time. He was a real somebody in the world of karting and knew everything there was to know about it. However, he didn't know quite so much about car racing and what goes on there.

Martin was my manager to begin with, but it didn't work out. Nevertheless, he was the one who believed in me more than anyone else. He never had the slightest doubt about my ability. And yes, there may be other people and managers who believe in you, but at the same time, there are moments when you think that they're not totally sure about you. However, he was behind me 100% and tried with his enthusiasm and conviction to make other people aware of just how good I was. That helped me get where I am now. From when I was ten to my time in Formula 3 in Germany, he was the person who made everything happen. Without him, nothing would have been possible.

Another important person in my life is, of course, Lisa. We are two totally different people, and sometimes, I need her to give me a bit of reality check. I'm quite the optimist and always see the good in everything and everyone. She sometimes has to make me realise that things might not be quite as good as I imagine. And she's usually right, which can be quite annoying, but yes, she's usually never wrong. Not everyone is as good as I think they are, which is sometimes a pity, but Lisa is without doubt the opposite to me. That helps a great deal, and we work together extremely well. She's certainly changed me as a human being from the very first day we met.

If things go well, you've maybe got another ten years of racing left in you, but have you given any thought to what comes after motor racing?

Gary Paffett: Yes, I've already given it some thought but have not been seriously looking for jobs. Still, many people have offered me jobs, people who think I'm ready to quit, but I'm not ready yet. I think, I'll probably still do something in the sport when my career is over, given my experience. This is the sport I love. When I can't compete anymore, I'll miss driving, miss coming here, but there are so many things I can do, so much I have to offer teams and drivers. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll do something in motor racing, but certainly not as a commentator. I don't like simply rabbiting on about things. I'd prefer to work with teams and drivers and try to help them improve, win races and be successful.

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